Most of us now accept that a towbar is a safety critical piece of equipment. Today, the best quality towbars are produced in highly efficient factories utilising precision manufacturing systems, in a quality controlled environment which has to meet the exacting standards of vehicle manufacturers. It is ironic that when we specify the electrics for the vehicle, so many choose to have an installation that bypasses the vehicles safety systems and which doesn’t interact with the vehicles highly sophisticated control systems.
The almost exponential increase in the sophistication of vehicle electrical systems, and their ability to interact with all functions of the vehicle, has led to an increase in demand for vehicle specific wiring kits. Vehicle specific wiring kits have been designed to work in harmony with the vehicle and fully integrate with all of the cars safety and towing systems as well as allowing the car to know when a trailer is being towed. If the car has been wired using a simple bypass relay, it cannot see the trailer and the towing safety features will not be activated.
When the car knows it is towing it can interact with some of the following towing related safety systems.
- Trailer Stability Programs
- Built in Bulb Failure Indicator Systems
- Brake Electronics
- Park Distance Control Systems
- Fog Light Cut Off
- Reversing Cameras
- Adaptive Cruise Control
- Suspension Systems
- Cooling Systems
The list above does not just apply to high specification luxury vehicles, but can be found in an increasing number of “normal” towing vehicles. If the vehicle has been wired with a bypass relay it cannot interact with the vehicles towing specific systems. This could lead to an increased risk of damage to the vehicle. Some vehicles will require additional diagnostic work to activate the towing functions. This is known as “coding”. Many specialist towbar installers now have the necessary coding equipment required to do this job. The coding tool plugs into the vehicles OBD plug, and then by following a series of predetermined steps, the towbar installer will activate the vehicles towing features. The installation of towbar electrics is no longer a simple choice of 7, twin or 13 pin electrics. The vehicle owner must now decide if they wish to utilise all the additional features that are within the vehicle which will enhance the safety of the vehicle and its passengers.